One of my friends called the other day. One of my best friends. There was both urgency and distress in her voice.
“Listen, I’ve got to tell you something,” she began. “And this is confidential. Do not tell anyone.” Meaning, particularly, “do not write this in the paper.” Which, of course, I would never do.
“OK.” I stopped what I was doing in the kitchen so I could listen carefully. “What’s wrong?”
She took a deep breath. “I’m out of control. Seriously. I am out of control.”
I rolled my eyes.
Now, this friend, my beloved friend since childhood, is dramatic. As soon as I heard that overstatement, I knew she was not overwrought about anything of importance, so I interrupted her.
“First of all, you’re not out of control because people who are really out of control have no idea they’re out of control. People who have enough control to say they’re out of control are really in control.”
She stopped in the midst of her breakdown long enough to laugh. As it turns out, I was right. She had indulged in dessert for four straight days and had no idea how she would ever straighten out her life again.
Seriously, people who think they’re out of control have enough discipline to correct the problem. It’s the ones who don’t see that they have a problem who have a problem.
In most of my books, I give a piece of advice by relaying a story from an experience I’ve had. In one book, I wrote about a couple of irascible, devious people I know. I did not use names. But I described behavior, specific incidents, and then I drew a moral from my experience. Both of these people —both of them — bought the book, read it, then went around reading the passages aloud that I had written about them and asking others, “Do you have any idea who she’s talking about?”
They were bewildered. Of course, everyone knew except for them so folks would bite back a smile and say, “If you don’t know, I don’t know.”
See? They didn’t know they were out of control. But the rest of us did so we could have helped them if they had realized they needed help.
My friend continued her tale of woe then said, “You need to pray for me.”
“You need more than prayer,” I replied.
That’s another thing. Some people think all you have to do is pray about something and it goes away. Now, I’m a big believer in the power of prayer but I also think that I shouldn’t ask God to do solely for me what He also expects me to do for myself.
I have my own problems with eating and keeping off weight. In all the years that I have needed His help, He has never reached down and taken a fork out of my hand. At best, He will curb my appetite and my cravings. I have to take control when I realize I’m out.
“Did you order that device I told you to order?”
“No,” she replied. “But I meant to.”
I was having lunch with a friend one day and asked her about the black band she was wearing around her wrist.
“Oh, it tracks my steps and keeps track of my calories. You’re supposed to walk 10,000 steps, daily.”
I looked it up online and discovered that the Japanese had developed a health program that maintains that 10,000 steps daily are necessary in order to be healthy.
“Now, why,” I mumbled, “would I take advice on weight control from the Japanese? I have never seen a fat Japanese.”
That, I realized quickly, was exactly why I should take advice from them. So, I ordered one and we have lived together happily ever after.
“God helps those who help themselves.”
I sound just like Mama.